HTTP Sorta Awe-tistic

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Movin' Day--Update those Bookmarks!

I like free things. Love 'em, actually. But, unfortunately, free usually comes with a price. And here at Blogger that price is exacted in lost posts, double posts, frequent outages and ever so slooooow uploads. (Case in point: there's a reason why there's not photo for this post. Grrr.) Sort of reminds of AOL, back in the day.

So I'm outta here. Hopefully Typepad will serve me better.

I'll keep this blog up for reference, but from here on I'll be at:
For an update on Intertextual Me, see the link next to this post and hop over there for instructions. I'll be moving it to typepad next week.

Ciao, babies!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thanks, Neil

It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.
--Neil Gaiman

Feeling cynical, a little world weary? The art been especially hard these last few days? Had a rough week at the office? Well here's ol' Neil to cheer you up.

Recently I wrote a new friend, saying that if being an overseas missionary was the holy grail of Christian careers, then writing fiction for the Christian publishing industry must be the booby prize. I was feeling cynical. So sad for me.

It's hard to have aspirations that others regard as half-witted. It's even harder to believe that somehow you're going to say something profound (like the emperor has no clothes) in the midst of your half-witted efforts. No one likes to have their faults exposed, and no one really loves the exposer. And it takes a whole lotta chutzpah, or something like a supernatural command to prompt truth saying. Remember the famous moment from Broadcast News where the big network producer takes Holly Hunter to task?
"It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room."
"No." Holly responds with the total conviction. "It's awful."

And it really is awful to think you're right--and still the emperor remains the emperor. It's also hilarious. I mean, if you can't laugh at your role as the half-wit (and look properly crazy in the process), you'll go insane.

So, uh...that's what I've been thinking.

Have a jolly weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fall Break

We're on fall break here. No, this isn't in consideration for the hoards of tree-peepers who flock to Tulsa in October to see our phenomenal displays of foliage aflame (cough), this is merely a break for the state educators to gather for their convention. So I'm home with the girl.

What am I up to? Let's see...
  1. reading Simon Schama's An Embarrassment of Riches--a cultural history of 17th century Netherlands. This is for a new project--hint hint.
  2. finishing T's flannel nightie. She can't wear pj's treated with fire retardant, and she strips off pajama pants, so I'm making her a gown out of flannel sheets we're no longer using.
  3. picked up the quilt to pass on to Lisa's Russian friend
  4. stickers...stickers...stickers!! T has a new passion for creating sticker stories and sticker "illustrations." Her fine motor skills just aren't up to her imagination, so she's thrilled to play with stickers for, literally, minutes at a time. This is a real break-through for us! The problem is, stickers add up $! (Even with my scrapbook store employee discount.) So if any of you have left-over Mrs. Grossman's, Stickopotumus, or such-like stickers that you're not using--email me and we'll talk turkey. I'm serious.
  5. and I'm contemplating some cute Halloween cards. They probably won't get made.
I'm working Friday night and allllll day Saturday, so it's unlikely I'll post again until Monday. Then again, maybe I'll find something so amazingly newsworthy I can't help myself.

And finally, if you're thinking of Christmas presents already you might want to visit Global Relief's Red site and check out what they're doing. You might find a way to satisfy your consumer urges and do something good.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Five Things You Learn In Lexington (or thereabouts)

1. Lisa doesn't bite. When I read my stuff aloud I still felt more self-conscious than a shy sixth grader in C cup bra at her first school dance, but Lisa (and Sherri) were both gracious and honest about my work. By Friday night we weren't quite the wallflowers we were when we first arrived (read: heavy understatement). And by Sunday, well, we were ridiculous.

2. Writing with other writers is the bomb. I've often missed my days of doing creative things in group. When it's going well and the personalities (and egos) click, it's a rare joy to share. Not only that, but you also get to discover how genuinely wierd other people are in ways they don't usually advertise. (This is a general observation, so don't ask me for specifics on Lisa's wierdness.) But the best part is that other writers actually want to hear about that new project you've been fiddling with for six years, and like to listen in while you try to think aloud about why Truly Trueheart will finally cheat on Steve Studly even though she's had a microchip implanted in her brain to prevent her from ever prevaricating. People pay big bucks for that kind of audience. Some call it a writers' conference, some call it therapy. I got to call it 'Laughing Owl'.

3. Happy feet come with happy hearts. These are Lisa's happy feet dancing on Sunday morning. How could she not get down and boogie while we packed up? But there was more to it, at least for me. I left with a happy heart because I got to move to my own internal soundtrack while I was there. If a lullaby came on, I headed off to bed even if it popped on in the middle of the afternoon. And if I had some crazy vocalese thing going on, there were two others close at hand to harmonize with my be-bopping brain.

4. Remember to check what bee is currently buzzing in the TSA's bonnet before you pack. I don't know what I was thinking (actually not having cable means I'm not reminded about the TSA often), but yes, I packed like I usually do and the result was that I dumped about $40 worth of toiletries at the security checkpoint in Tulsa. And the Samson kids' gifts almost went with them. Jake's modeling clay got dusted for bomb residue (or whatever it is) and the girls almost got their scrapbooking gel paint confiscated. I had it gift wrapped, though, and the guards were reluctant to rip into it, perhaps because they'd already ripped into all my other carry-on luggage. So the gifts arrived safely, and the security story was a bonus for Jake.

5. Church happens between two. This is were the Samsons gather on a Sunday. Because my flight left late, they hauled me along to their church and I got a look-see at the actual Communality project. It was low key and lovely. I think the bread and the wine for communion was actually cranberry nut bread and V8 Splash, and we actually served it to one another. That part was especially touching because the 'pass the plate' communion always seems cold to me. Holding the communion and offering the blessing for another believer to receive is a sort of service, and a very holy one. Like so many other facets of contemporary church life, we've sacrificed the intimate and humble for expediency. But the simple sharing of the communion between two strangers is all you need for church.

And that's it!

Nah. Just joking. Actually there's more, there's much, much more to say. But this is just a taste of the bounty (as Sherri said) that Lisa offered us in Lexington. One of the greatest confirmations I left with was hearing that I shouldn't abandon my original vision of writing for younger readers--the middles and the YA. I've gotten off-track with my WIP, and because of this, the manuscript has been wandering like a lost soul with half a map home. But with 66k in words invested, I'm not going to dump it. So I'm putting it aside for a bit until I can find that other half map. Instead and until then, I'm starting research for another project that I've been mulling for several months now. And realistically, until T is in school full days, I haven't got the time for a job/mothering/and a writing career. I wish I had Lisa's energy, but I don't. So it'll come, in it's own sweet time it'll come.

As Bad As I Wanna Be

I learned something about myself at Lisa's. Or perhaps I should say that I relearned something about myself, because I think I've had this revelation before and then forgot about it.

Back in the cabin I said something about how difficult it is to counsel teenaged girls in poverty because as females without any of the usual power chips (money, status, physical prowess) to hold down, they resort to a kind of survival mode thinking and simply pretend to agree with you until they can get what they need from you or escape your influence. In short, they adopt whatever mask you want them to wear, until you've left the audience. Drugs are bad? Yeah... That guy is bad for me? Yeah... Once she's on to your party line, she'll convincingly share that view until you're gone. The pretty little blonde with too much eye makeup has survived you, and she'll survive the next person and the next agenda. And on and on until she doesn't have an iota of a clue who she really is; she's just someone being all things to all people in order to survive.

Then I realised that girl is me.

Am I poor? Not now. I mean, not when I look at my bank account. But there was a day when I was most definitely the working poor with a "you want fries with that?" liberal arts degree. And I wasn't fashionably slumming it while Daddy dearest made the car payments and Mummy sent me brownies to encourage me while I waited for my big break. So I made do. This meant that I, like little blondie above, played the part I needed to play for each audience I faced.

I don't face housing and food survival needs now, and that's a freeing fact. But despite my middle-classness and relative stability, I still don't know who I am. Maybe it's just a woman thing. But even now I bind myself in the clothes of another's expectations. Too often it's an ill-fitting costume that still smells like the last actress who wore it. And frankly, it stinks.

If I'm going to write, I decided, I'll have to create my story from whole cloth. No more guessing at another's second-hand expectations, no more holding back for fear of offense or poor marketability. No tippy-toeing through the CBA tulips as if land mines have been hidden in its flower beds. No more dress-up games.

Which leaves me to be as bad as I wanna be.

Huzzah! you say? Well, actually not huzzah. I can blather on about drugs or drinking or sex if you want. But that doesn't get to me. On the other hand, if you'd rather I'd not blather on about those thinbgs--if that's your line of offense, then fine. It's an easy line to see and avoid, and that's nothing to me.

The lines I'm most interested in aren't easy to see, and they're damned hard to avoid. And they could hardly be contained in a set of rules. I'm talking about the subtle shifts of the human conscience, the human soul, as they play out through the day, like shadows moving across the heart. Being as bad as I want to be means watching those shadows, looking for the shifts. I also means getting in close to the human heart.

My favorite show now is Battlestar Galactica. We get this on Netflix, and now on itunes. And I'm so very hooked. I know I sound like some goofy sci-fi nerd, but I have my reasons for tooting its horn. In the very first episode Captain Adama (Edward James Olmos) laid out the basic question of story and it's the pursuit of that question that I think has resulted in some of the best storytelling on television. And the question is this: Is humanity worth saving?

To answer this question you can't go on a grand tour of the world's great glories of architecture, neither can you point to Man's great acheivements in commerce or science or art or government. To answer this question you've got to reach into the human chest and seize that 11ozs of beating muscle and inspect what's inside. We all know what's there isn't often pretty.

This picture above is from the new season. Kara Thrace (aka 'Starbuck') is a soldier and fighter pilot who long ago once brutally beat the man in the picture. He was caught as a Cylon, an enemy, and brought in for interrogation. But Kara lost her head and the interrogation turned into torture. It wasn't a gory episode, but it was ugly. Now the tables are turned. Kara is the Cylon's prisoner, for what reason we don't yet know. But if he's attempting to kill her, he seems to be killing her with kindness. A different kind of torture. Trapped, Kara plays her part to survive.

She's killed him five times. But Cylons don't die, they just resurrect into new bodies. And still her captor is kind. I suppose there'd be a straightforward Sunday school lesson there about how when we deny or 'kill' Jesus in our hearts, he still returns for us. But the Cylon, no matter how religious he is or how he believes a prophecy about Kara and him (he is and he does), is not Jesus. His motives, as much as Kara's are as shadowy as my own each day. I just don't have dining room dramas where my hubby ends up dead with chopsticks through his neck each night. So who's better here? The trapped soldier polytheistic woman who was once a torturer? Or the fanatical but patient monotheistic Cylon who believes his people (who killed billions of humans) to be morally superior?

For some, the answer to Adama's question could be answered by the accounting method: add up all the bad stuff we've done and subtract it from the good stuff. If there's anything left to the good, then we go on. But if we're left in the negative, then bring on the Cylon toasters! That would be justice, right?

But as a Christian, this question strikes me very differently. According to what I've been taught and have read, God felt that we were worth some kind of salvation. Why? In my pre-Christian mind I saw ourselves in a goodness deficit, and I didn't have to look far to confirm my view. So if were are in the hole, why pull our butts out? I mean, we did it to ourselves! I got to be as bad as I wanted to be, right? Right. Let me wallow in my own crap. That's certainly a valid kind of justice, too.

And this is the central tension of every story. Does humanity deserve to survive? When we're as bad as we wanna be, why are we offered Good? why do we seek Good? If we don't see the shadows across our own hearts and if we only see through the masks of others' expectations, we'll miss the real questions we must be asking every day.

I want to be the kind of writer who looks.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm back. Sort of.

Came home with the throat and sinus grunge, so my priority has been to rest between intense mommying and general coming home and catching up with my life stuff. Still tired and still sick, but I'm well enough to go into work tonight. I so need the money, so it's up and at 'em for me.

By early next week I hope to post something readable. Until then...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Leaving you with a pretty picture and hoping it's cooler here when I return.

One More Day!

Thanks to my girl's present obsession with That's Entertainment, I've had musicals on the brain all week. This is no complaint. If I had to choose between "Clang, clang goes the trolley..." and anything that comes out of Dora the Explorer's mouth, I'd take perky Judy Garland ANY day... ALL day. But it's a little odd to hear a four year old walking around the house humming "It's A Most Unusual Day."

So we're humming show tunes and it's beginning to be a bit ingrained. Tonight, while I was cooking up dinner and reviewing my plans for the Lexington trip, I thought, "Oh, it's only one more day!" Immediately the image of the French barracks pop into my mind, and suddenly I'm off into Les Miserables-land, standing atop a pile of broken tables and wine casks with the tri-color unfurled defiantly beside me. Or maybe it was just the Chardonney going into my stroganoff that caught me in a French moment. I dunno.

This all takes me back to my first year in the conservatory. We designers (and other nearly normal people) were stuffed into the dorms with all the other firsties, which meant we lived in close proximity to dozens of musical theater majors--all of which had recently graduated from their respective high schools thinking they were seriously hot sh*t on engraved silver platters. They also thought lunchtime was the right time to treat us all to their talent. Folks, it was like living on the set of Fame--day after day after day after....well, you get it.

The fundamental rule was everything was fair game for a song cue. Peas look good for once? You got "Peas, glorious peas..." and other references to Oliver. If you were lucky, and the kids were sharp that day, they'd take a theme and run with it. In this case, you'd probably get a hard-luck kid theme with at least a couple of tunes from Annie, followed by "Castle on a Cloud." Some performances were fun; some of the performances were amazing. But a steady diet of musical theater while you're trying to wolf down over-cooked penne with red sauce was enough to nearly kill my enjoyment of the art form (and pasta, for that matter).

Fortunately, by the end of the sophomore cuts most of them had either moved off campus (like me) or simply gotten too tired from the late hours and the hard work to play Fame anymore. But then, there were always new freshmen...

So we're back to songland here and I got to take a little trip down my shortish memory lane. I'm not complaining, really. And I'll miss the fun with T because I'll be gone for a few days. Instead, T will have to entertain Nana and Papa with her attempts at "breaking the ice" (T's description for the astounding Eleanor Powell/Fred Astaire tap routine to Begin the Beguine--which is danced on a highly reflective black floor that does look remarkably like ice).

However...if Lisa jumps atop the hot tub cover and begins to belt out "The Trolley Song," I may just have to steal her keys and beat a path to the airport.

The Trolley Song ["Meet Me In St. Louis" Original Cast Album Version]

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stepping out into October

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

If I rise to giddy heights, speaking quickly, stumbling over my own lips and saying stupid things, He knows better. If I fall so far, so fast that I'm sure His hand has slipped, it hasn't. And if the darkness should ever be so black that I'm sure He cannot find me...He will.

The days are shorter; the nights are longer. None of this matters to Him. He is.

And I am stepping out into October.